Vaccination's vital role in poultry farming success

Annette Muhavi, a poultry Technician vaccinates chicks in KALRO Offices, Kakamega. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Poultry farmers often face challenges in managing the crucial task of vaccinating their flocks, considering the associated difficulties and expenses in hiring veterinary experts, as required by law. It is imperative to continually educate farmers about the significance of vaccination and the manifold benefits it brings, not only to the health of poultry but also to humans and the environment.

Vaccines, as biological agents, are administered to living animals to stimulate an immune response or immunisation against specific disease agents (antigens). Understanding the key facts about vaccination is essential for realizing its full benefits.

How vaccines work

Vaccination exposes birds to disease antigens present in the vaccine, prompting the immune system to produce more effective responses, such as antibodies or immune cells. The immune system retains a memory of these antigens, enabling a faster and stronger reaction when encountering the actual disease, thus empowering birds to resist infection.

The importance of vaccination

Vaccines offer protection against poultry diseases that could lead to significant losses in terms of mortality and reduced production within the flock. Adhering to vaccination guidelines is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive poultry population.

Potential causes of vaccination failures

Several factors can contribute to the failure of a vaccination programme, including missed birds during the vaccination process, underdosing of vaccines, poor vaccine administration, and the use of expired products. These factors must be carefully addressed to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccination program.

Drinking water vaccination

For diseases like Gumboro, Newcastle, and Infectious Bronchitis, vaccines are often administered through drinking water. Monitoring and understanding the birds’ water consumption patterns are vital for effective vaccination planning. Tools like water meters and water intake charts can aid in this process.

Preparation before vaccination

Ensuring birds are thirsty before vaccination is crucial for effective administration. However, excessive thirst can lead to uneven distribution of the vaccine. Withdrawal of water for a specific duration before vaccination, especially in different weather conditions, is essential.

Optimal timing for vaccination

Administer water vaccines during the early morning or cool evening hours to ensure birds are receptive to drinking. Providing enough drinker space per bird is vital for effective vaccine distribution.

General principles of vaccine administration through water

Adding skimmed milk or vaccine stabilizers to the water before vaccination is crucial. Monitoring birds to ensure they are drinking and have access to the drinkers is essential. The time taken for birds to finish the vaccine should ideally be within 2 hours but not less than 1 hour.

Vaccine administration using header water tanks

Preparing header water tanks for vaccine administration involves removing chlorine tablets, calculating the required vaccine doses, and adding vaccine stabilizers. Proper valve adjustments ensure the retention of the required amount of water in the tank. After adding the vaccine and dye, opening the tank valve allows the vaccine to reach the drinkers.

Vaccine administration in closed water systems/nipple drinkers

Raising drinker lines before vaccination and calculating the required amount of water are crucial steps. Flushing drinker lines with clean water, mixing vaccine components, and pumping the vaccine mix into drinker lines ensure proper administration.

Post-vaccination checks

Recording any issues during vaccine administration for future reference is important. Withdrawing medication, disinfectants, and chlorine for the next 24 hours after vaccination is essential to ensure the well-being of the flock.

[Write to Dr. Watson Messo at: [email protected]]

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